Archives For Miscellaneous

This is great…

I heard this while listening to “The Book of Man” by William Bennett. It is a letter written by John D. Swain as his son headed off to Yale. It’s from 1912, but the advice is still good today. Common sense never goes out of style.

My oldest son headed off for Texas A&M and Blinn this week. This letter hit home.

Happy Friday!

My Dear Son:

I am writing a few things I meant to say to you when we took our last walk together, the day before you left for Yale. l intended to say them then and I will even confess that l shamelessly inveigled you into taking a stroll on the quiet street that l might rehearse a carefully prepared bit of Chesterfield up-to-date; but somehow I could not seem to begin,—and, after all, perhaps I can write what was in my mind more freely and plainly than l could have spoken it.

I think I had never realized before that I was getting old.

Of course I have known that my hair is causing your mother much solicitude. and that l am hopelessly wedded to my pince-nez while reading my daily paper, and at the opera; but in some incomprehensible way I had forgotten to associate these trifles with the encroachments of time. It was the sudden realization that you were about to become a Freshman in the college from which, as it seems to me, l but yesterday graduated, that “froze the genial current of my soul,” and spared you my paternal lecture.

Why, l can shut my eyes and still hear the Ivy Song, as we sang it that beautiful June morning; and yet but a few nights more and you will be locked in the deadly Rush on the same field where I triumphantly received two blackened eyes, and, l trust, gave many more!

Another thing, trifling in itself, opened my eyes to the fact of my advancing years. My son, my loyal and affectionate boy, some day it may be yours to know the pain, the unreasonable pain that comes over a man to know that between him and his boy, and his boy’s friends, an unseen but unassailable barrier has arisen, erected by no human agency; and to feel that while they may experience a vague respect and even curiosity to know what exists on your side of the barrier, you on your part would give all—wealth, position, influence, honor—to get back to theirs! All the world, clumsily or gracefully, is crawling over this barrier; but not one ever crawls back again!

You have ever seemed happy to be with me; you have worked with me, read and smoked with me, even played golf with me; but the subtle change in your attitude, the kindling of your eye when we met young men of your age, is the keenest pain I have ever known; yet one which, God knows! I would not reproach you with.

It explains what I used to see on my father’s face and did not understand.

For the tyranny of youth, my son, is the one tyranny which never has been, never can be overthrown. Nothing can displace it, nothing shake its power.

I usually beat you at golf, and occasionally at tennis; I suppose that if we were to spar together I might still make a respectable showing, and at least “save my face.” It avails no thing. I am on my side of the barrier, you on yours.

It seems but a year and a day since I tucked the ball under my arm and sped down the gridiron, sustained by the yells of my partisans; and if our game lacked the machine-like precision of the mass formations you are already somewhat familiar with, it was a good game, and we were good men, and all on the right side of the barrier!

So bear with me if l pause a moment and gaze back across this inevitable gulf into the pleasant land that lies behind me,—a picture evoked by your dawning college career.

I would not have you think me regretful, or melancholy. Life has been good to me—and every age has its gifts for the man who is willing to work for them and use them temperately. And nothing is more ungraceful, more ludicrous, than the spectacle of one who attempts to linger over the pleasures of an age he had outlived, and ignore the advantages of his own time of life.

Yet, as the years bring weakness, the mind persistently drifts back to the earlier periods of life, until the aged actually enter a phase we not inaptly name “second childhood,” from which Heaven forefend me!

I can still appreciate a pair of sparkling blue eyes, and I am not oblivious to the turn of a pretty shoulder; although I devoutly trust that my interest is now impersonal, and merely artistic . . .

Some fathers say to their sons upon the first home leaving,—”Beware of wine and women!” I do not.

If your home life has not taught you the virtues of a temperate, clean life, as I hope, then no words of mine can do it, and you must learn, as too many others have, from a bitter intimacy with its antithesis.

As to women, I never avoided them; I sought them out, from the time when, a red-cheeked youngster, I trudged to school beside a red-cheeked lassìe—asleep these many years in the little village lot where lie so many with whom I fought and played these many years gone by.

I have no advice to offer you on this great subject; its ethics are not taught by letter. If I have any regrets, they are not for your ear, nor any man’s. And if, of some women I have known, I cannot say that I lifted them up, at least of no woman can it be said that I thrust her down!

I ask of you no more than this and the guidance of your own heart; that, in the latter years, when you, too, pass over the barrier, you may not leave behind you shadows on the flower-decked meadows of your youth.

You will probably play cards in college; most men do,—I did. The gambling instinct in man is primordial. Kept under due bounds, if not useful, it is at least comparatively harmless. This is the very best that I or any honest man can say of it. I should be glad if you never cared to gamble; but l do not ask it. Assuming that you will, l do not insult you, and myself equally, by warning you against unfairness; to suppose you capable of cheating at cards is to suppose an impossibility. You could not do so without forfeiting the right ever to enter your home again. But some careless and insidious practices, not unknown in my day and class, savor to the upright mind of cheating, without always incurring its penalties.

To play with men whom you know cannot afford to lose, and who must either cheat or suffer privation; to play when you yourself must win your bet to square yourself; that is, when you do not reasonably see how you are going to raise the money to pay providing you lose,—this is a gambler’s chance to which no gentleman will ever expose his fellow players.

There is nothing heroic about these desperate casts of the die; one risks only the other fellow’s money. These practices I ask and expect you to avoid.

l ask nothing of you in the way of a declared position on religion. Your mother may have demanded more of you here,—entreated more; I cannot. I ask but this: that you will give earnest, serious consideration to the fact that we exist on this planet for a shockingly brief fraction of Eternity; that it behooves every man to diligently seek an answer to the great question,—Why am I here? And then, as best he can, to live up to the ideal enjoined by his answer. And if this carries you far, and if it leads you to embrace any of the great creeds of Christendom, this will be to your mother an unspeakable joy, and perhaps not less so to me; but it is a question which cannot be settled by the mere filial desire to please.

Last of all, while you are in college, be of it and support its every healthful activity.

I ask no academic honor your natural inclinations may not lead you to strive for; no physical supremacy your animal spirits may not instinctively reach out and grasp.

You will, I presume, make the fraternity I made, and, I hope, the societies; you will probably then learn that your father was not always a dignified, bearded man in pince-nez and frock coat, and that on his side of the barrier he cut not a few capers which, seen in the clear light of his summer, gain little grace. Yet, were he to live his life over again, he would cut the same, or worse.

Finally, if you make any of the teams, never quit. That is all the secret of success. Never quit!

Quitting, I like to believe, has not been a striking characteristic of our family, and it is not tolerated in our college.

If you can’t win the scholarship, fight it out to the end of the examination.

If you can’t win your race, at least finish—somewhere.

If your boat can’t win, at least keep pulling on your oar, even if your eye glazes and the taste of blood comes into your throat with every heave.

If you cannot make your five yards in football, keep bucking the line—never let up—if you can’t see, or hear, keep plugging ahead! Never quit! If you forget all else I have said, remember these two words, through all your life, and come success or failure, I shall proudly think of you as my own dear son.

And so, from the old home-life, farewell, and Godspeed!

Your Affectionate Father

Nearly a year ago we found out we were moving. My wife accepted a new position that was too far for her to commute long-term.

Unfortunately, our old house was not market ready. We bought the house in 1999. It needed a lot of work then but we were low on funds. In fact, we didn’t do our first major renovation until the Fall of 2007. With that project, we took out a wall between the family room and kitchen, relocated a corner fireplace to a different part of the room, gutted the entire kitchen, installed new custom cabinets and bookcases, and tile throughout the kitchen, family room, and entry way. It totally remade that part of the house. But, we still had two-thirds of the house that needed attention.

That two-thirds was what kept us from being able to sell our house.

Long story short, we did get the house finished. It took me roughly 10 months to get it all done. All that hard work paid off. Here is a before and after picture of the front. The top picture was taken in 2005 right before we evacuated for Hurricane Rita. As you can see, Rita took out some trees.

Pritchard Palace I (Before and After) - small

Our Realtor put a sign in our yard on a Monday afternoon. Our listing went live that afternoon about 4:00. We received a call at around 5pm, asking to show the house at 5:30. We received another call at 6:30, asking to show the house at 7:15. We had two showings the first day and TWO offers the next morning. One of the buyers offered a little over our asking price. We accepted that offer and will be moving out next week.

We will be living in an apartment for a couple of months while we wait for the house we are buying to get finished. Here is a picture of the new house:


We are looking forward to settling down in our new house. I’m looking forward to getting back to AFM on a consistent basis.

I couldn’t sleep last night, so I got up and did some reading. I read the book, As a Man Thinketh
by James Allen.

The following quote stood out to me:

Here is a man who is wretchedly poor. He is extremely anxious that his surroundings and home comforts should be improved, yet all the time he shirks his work, and considers he is justified in trying to deceive his employer on the ground of the insufficiency of his wages. Such a man does not understand the simplest rudiments of those principles which are the basis of true prosperity, and is not only totally unfitted to rise out of his wretchedness, but is actually attracting to himself a still deeper wretchedness by dwelling in, and acting out, indolent, deceptive, and unmanly thoughts.

This is a great little book. It can be downloaded for free from Amazon. Check it out.

Take This Spelling Test…

October 23, 2013

I found this link to this spelling quiz on facebook. I took the quiz last night and scored a whopping 78%.

The 25 Most Commonly Misspelled Words

Take it and if you aren’t too embarrassed, post your results in the comments.


An iMessage Fix

October 7, 2013

If you have an iPhone or iPad running iOS7, chances are pretty good that you have had an issue with iMessage. I and my son were having issues with it. I would type a message, hit send, the blue send notification bar would get almost to the end and stop and just sit there. Very annoying.

Anyway, my son found a fix that has worked for both of us.

Go to…

Settings > Messages
• Turn off iMessage
• Wait a few seconds and turn iMessage back on
• Do a power cycle of your iPhone by holding down the home button and the button at the top right corner of the phone down at the same time until the Apple icon pops up on the screen.
• Once your phone is powered back up, it should work.

Rob and Katherine Deane thought they were being responsible by buying insurance policies to provide for care in their later years. Instead, the Michigan couple are encountering a growing gap in health-care coverage that the government overhaul will do nothing to fix.

The Deanes say they got hit last year with rate increases on both of their long-term-care policies, insurance plans that pay for nursing homes or in-home care. Manulife Financial Corp.’s MFC.T +3.29% John Hancock unit told Mrs. Deane that the premium on her 10-year-old policy would jump 77% to $6,406 a year. Her husband’s insurer, Unum Group, UNM +9.68% increased his premium by 25%.

After they complained, Hancock trimmed Mrs. Deane’s rate hike to 46%. In exchange, she agreed to shrink the policy’s benefit period to six years from 10. “Seniors are really getting hammered,” says Dr. Deane, a 76-year-old retired surgeon.

That quote is from this article last week while on vacation:

Long-Term-Care Insurance Gap Hits Seniors

I was in the insurance business for a few years back in the late 90s. I remember listening to the insurance reps talk about long-term care insurance. It sounded like a no-brainer at the time. Start when you’re 50-years old and then the policy will be there when you’re old and grey and need it. When asked about the potential for premiums to increase, the sales rep usually shrugged it off and said that rates could only be increased on the group (in other words, they couldn’t single out people). It sounded mildly comforting to me at the time.

Now the reality…

Insurance companies are exiting the business and those who are still in it are driving up premiums. Those still holding policies are seeing their premiums skyrocket (a 77% increase???). So much for planning ahead and trying to do the right thing. Granted, this couple can probably afford the premiums but there are lots of others who can’t.

I know it won’t happen but insurance companies should do the noble thing and refund premiums to those who want them back since they weren’t able to hold up their end of the bargain.